Earlier this year, Dave Macleod, the Glasgow based professional rock climber, finally got to the top of what is now the hardest traditionally protected rock climb in the world, Rhapsody, grading it a mighty E11. The route takes pretty much the most direct line up smooth overhanging face of Dumbarton rock, a large basalt outcrop near Glasgow, and is undoubtedly the biggest thing that has happened in the British rock climbing scene for several years.
It is only right therefore, that there should be some sort of film record this effort - yet I wasn't expecting an entire flick dedicated to it! 41 minutes focusing on one climber and one route may not sound too exciting, but what the chaps at http://www.hotaches.com have done is not just document the story of how the route was conquered, but painted a picture of the determination and hard work required to reach this level. Most poingantly, we get to know Dave's wife, Claire, almost as well as we get to know Dave himself, and we see the strain that she is under - the strain that must affect the partners of all professional athletes who are completely obsessed with their goals.
As such this is a film that even non-climbers will appreciate - they won't even get bored during the section of actual climbing footage, due to the gut wrenching falls the Dave takes over and over again. They really are horrendous, if you don't believe me, go and download the trailer here.
So how does the film compare with other classic climbing movies, such as Hard Grit or Stone Monkey? Well it is different to both. Hard Grit is a classic becuase it defines not just a style of climbing, but also an era. Stone Monkey is a classic because it paints a portrait of one of the most influental British climbers of all time. E11 doesn't aim to do either of these things, yet it is undoubtedly utterly compelling viewing; it is the first film that really gives you some sort of inkling of what it must be like to be at the cutting edge of the rock climbing world - and in fact any 'small' sport (i.e. one that doesn't provide big bucks to it's participants). As such it deserves a place on the shelf of anybody who has more than a passing interest in climbing, and I suspect my copy (which has been watched twice already) will see plenty more repeat viewings as the years go by.
More reviews here, here and here.